Monday, May 05, 2008

Bolivia Updates

Prayer Team—

God has answered your prayers for Bolivia. Here’s a quick update.

1. In spite of a sinus infection, a difficult translator and lots of political drama, the leadership conference last week turned out to be a huge success. The organizers switched translators on the second day. Pastor Enzo and Chris Horton taught the sessions that I missed while out sick. We ended up with 168 people registered, many more than I expected.

2. At the end of the conference the pastors indicated they have 12 areas in which they want us to work in June with our team. That is a big hallelujah, for it is substantially more than the 5 areas in which we worked last year. So the vision seems to be spreading.

3. Our challenge is that we only have 16 on our team from the US, enough for 6 or 7 teams. The Bolivians certainly can do the work without us, but we'd like to have a team of at least 2 from the US to go to each area where they have requested help. So we continue to pray for more people for our June 6 to 15 trip. [Click here if you’d like to go with us.]

4. The election yesterday in Santa Cruz was generally peaceful. There was some scuffling in the huge neighborhood of Plan 3000, where supporters of the socialist president tried to stop the people from voting. We have helped plant several new churches in Plan 3000. There was almost an 85% vote in favor of autonomy for the state of Santa Cruz.

Please continue to pray that God will expand His kingdom of light in Bolivia.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Lookin’ for Chicken Soup

After I wrote the blog entry below, I decided “I gotta get out of this hotel room . . . how ‘bout some lunch? Chicken soup would be good.”

So I headed toward a couple nearby restaurants. But almost everything was closed. Its Labor Day here.

About the only place open was a little hole-in-the-wall chicken place. They have a diverse menu—whole chickens, half chickens, white meat quarters and dark meat quarters. Plus white starch to round out your plate: potatoes, rice or spaghetti. But no chicken soup.

So maybe that’s what got me thinking about chicken soup.

Anyway, this picture came to mind of God making this big kettle of chicken soup. He’s like my Grandma Bess, who never used a recipe. She poured stuff in her palm, or sprinkle spices in the pot, because she knew exactly what was needed and how much.

God doesn’t use a recipe because He’s so creative and knows exactly what He wants it to taste like, and what’s needed to get that taste. Plus every batch is different.

We’re not the chef of what’s going on, He is. We’re ingredients He uses. He decides if He wants the oregano or rosemary or thyme or peppercorns or cloves or broccoli or ginger. If we’re ready and available, He may put us in this or that batch of soup He’s got cooking. Or not. If we crumble or rot or split open or fall on the ground, He may pick something else that day. Or not. He decides.

Things definitely are cooking in Bolivia. And it sure smells good.

Bolivia: From Bad to Worse?

Last night I surrendered the conference here to the Lord, translator and all. To tell you the truth, I had it all worked out in my mind how today was going to be glorious.

But it wasn’t anything like I thought.

As Pastor Enzo, our Bolivia National Director taught the first session, I felt worse and worse. Back in Dallas I had some upper respiratory gunk. I hoped it was allergies, which would disappear once I left Texas. But the gunk has persisted here. I felt weaker and weaker, even as the conference folks were very enthusiastically learning how to use the EvangeCube. (See pictures below.) So Enzo grabbed a taxi for me so I could come back to the hotel to rest.

I was strongly tempted to whine. Woe is me, in a far foreign land with a nasty head cold. But James 1:2-4 kept ringing in my clogged head—

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing
So I’ve been laying here “counting it all joy” and looking forward to growing through this—

**The turnout for the conference has exceeded expectations. Over 100 attending.

**In the midst of political turmoil here, believers are excited about evangelism, discipleship and church planting. One pastor from Potosi (3 hours away) brought 15 from his youth group to be trained!

**The conference will go on great without me. Enzo could do the whole thing, and not need a translator. And Chris Horton came along to help teach. They both do as well, or probably better, than I do.

**I am not indispensible. (I know that all of you already knew that, but I have to keep reminding myself of this fact.) Jesus commanded us to make disciples to carry on the work with or without us.

So, no, the conference did not go from bad to worse. It just went to “different.” But I guess that is what surrender is all about—being willing to accept what He does.

Please pray for God to bring glory to Himself as He raises up laborers, and leaders of laborers, for His harvest in Bolivia. Please also pray for the Head of the Church to show us exactly who to work with when our team comes in June.

PS I don’t know how the translator situation turned out. I left before Chris started to teach.

Leadership Conference Pix

Bolivia: Tough Night at LDC

Tonight was perhaps the toughest session I’ve ever had at a leadership conference. We had a great turnout—many more than I expected.

What made it tough was the translator. He made jokes as I talked, sometimes not even explaining what I said before he made the joke. He also talked at a different pace even when I was very animated. In other words, he might have been saying much of what I was saying, but it was coming across very differently than intended. I could tell from the faces of the people that they were confused most of the time.

Please claim this promise for tomorrow’s sessions—

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I have surrendered this situation to the Lord. I do not want to discourage or embarrass this man, for translating is difficult. I know I could not do it well. But we also have a responsibility to effectively communicate to those who are taking their precious time to participate. We also need to prepare the churches and their people for campaign and team coming in June.

Thanks for praying.